Deschutes County Launches Planning Process for South County


Deschutes County in January 2012 is beginning an 18-month process to plan for the unincorporated areas south of Sunriver and seeks the public’s help. What do you think South Deschutes County will look like in 20 years? What do you want it to look like?

This is your opportunity to work with your neighbors to shape the future. Planning Director Nick Lelack noted, “The goal of the Plan is to ensure a highly livable community for current and future residents.” Extensive community outreach will ensure that the South County Plan reflects local values consistent with Oregon’s statewide planning program.

Southern Deschutes County spans more than 125 square miles and is bounded by federal lands managed by the Deschutes National Forest and Bureau of Land Management. Much of the land is forested, with abundant wildlife, including deer migration routes. Approximately 15,000 lots were platted in the 1960s and 1970s, prior to the enactment of Oregon’s land use planning laws. Most are small 1- to 2-acre parcels. Many of the lots are adjacent to the scenic Deschutes and Little Deschutes rivers and are on or close to floodplains, wetlands and riparian areas. The water table is shallow – less than six feet for most lots and less than two feet for approximately 1,500 privately owned lots. Only a limited number of lots are serviced by sewer or water districts or paved roads. The large number of rural lots with limited public services provides a unique set of issues.

The South County Plan will address those issues based on a review of local land use information and community input. Goals and policies will be written to describe the preferred course of action for guiding rural growth and development. The goals and policies will provide a guide to decision making for land use planning, capital improvements, and physical development during a 20-year period.

Once adopted, the Plan can be implemented using regulatory and non-regulatory tools. Regulatory tools include zoning and other land use ordinances. Non-regulatory tools include intergovernmental coordination and public-private partnerships. Whatever tool is used, implementation of the Plan’s goals and policies will be initiated primarily through the annual work plan for the Planning Division that is adopted by the Board of County Commissioners after public input.

The South County Planning process will engage residents and stakeholders to understand their land use values and expectations for the area. Deschutes County is committed to involving citizens to ensure the plan reflects today’s values. Community input will provide the basis for developing goals and policies that describe the preferred course of action for guiding rural growth. The Plan will focus on several regional issues, including: roadways, rural and economic development, farms and forests, public health, fish and wildlife habitat, fire protection, water quantity and quality issues and other issues raised by the community. Principal Planner Peter Gutowsky said, “We look forward to working closely with South County residents and businesses to develop a South County Plan.” A website has been created at and a web survey will be posted. Organizations and agencies active in South County will be invited to participate. Summary sheets are being prepared to give snapshots of current conditions. A series of community meetings will be held to provide a forum for residents and businesses to define their preferred future.

Community Meetings (details will be posted on the website when available)





Planning the Future

First thoughts on a preferred future



Community partners explain their plans & answer questions


Resources & Issues

Identify resources to protect & issues to address



Identify ways to protect resources & solve problems


Refine goals & policies

Review and refine draft goals & policies

Besides community meetings, there are other opportunities to get involved. County planners will be reaching out to homeowner associations, neighborhood groups, and stakeholders. Senior Planner Terri Payne stated “We know not everyone can attend community meetings. To make it easier for people to participate, we will bring the discussion to your neighborhood organization or local group. Just give us a call.”

What you can do


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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